Spearheading Nissan's dominant entry to the famous endurance race, on June 16/17, will be the hugely innovative, experimental racing car - the Nissan DeltaWing - which aims to change the face of motor racing by completing the Le Mans 24 Hours using half the fuel and half the tire material of a conventional LMP racer.
Leading the charge in the LMP2 class, in which Nismo-produced Nissan units power more than half of the competing cars, are Nissan's partner teams, Signatech Nissan and Greaves Motorsport.
Among the drivers vying for LMP2 victory this year will be two graduates of Nissan's unique GT Academy initiative, which has made motorsport careers a reality for Playstation 3 gamers; Lucas Ordonez - who will share his car with ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle - and second GTA champion, Jordan Tresson.
Paul Willcox, Senior Vice President, Nissan in Europe, said: "This year's Le Mans 24 Hours will be our biggest yet and the Nissan DeltaWing shows the direction we are looking to take with motorsport technology in the future. We are already dominant in LMP2, where teams know that we can help them win, while the DeltaWing project is the kind of experiment in design and technology that only a company as forward-thinking and bold as Nissan could get behind.
"As a test bed for future road car and motorsport innovations, there is no greater, more publicly-scrutinized laboratory than the Le Mans 24 Hours for the experiment that DeltaWing represents, but the concept will prove that the technology for a vastly more efficient future is viable now, whether the car finishes the race or not."
The Nissan DeltaWing is the most revolutionary car to appear in motorsport for a generation; the aim is to show that it is possible to make huge efficiency savings by downsizing and using a truly innovative aerodynamic package.
Everything about DeltaWing is designed with efficiency in mind - its unique shape has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer, while all parts - including the downsized Nissan 1.6-litre DIG-Turbo engine - are smaller and weigh much less than traditional Le Mans machines. The car is so unique that it competes in the race outside the regulations of Le Mans, wearing the number '0' and running from "Garage 56", reserved exclusively for experimental racers.
Nissan's involvement in LMP2 is similarly ground-breaking, thanks to the presence of GT Academy graduates - Spaniard, Ordonez and Frenchman, Tresson.
Winner of the first Nissan GT Academy in 2008, Ordonez finished second in LMP2 at Le Mans in 2011 and this year will race with the Greaves Motorsport team alongside 1990 Le Mans 24 Hour winner and former F1 racer, Martin Brundle and his son Alex.
Also aiming to become the first gamer-turned-racer to win Le Mans outright, Tresson - winner of the second GT Academy in 2010 - joins 2011 Le Mans LMP2 winner, Olivier Lombard and runner-up, Franck Mailleux, at the Signatech team.
NISSAN DELTAWING TECH SPEC
•Engine: Nissan 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline Turbo)
•Max power: 300bhp at 7400 rpm
•Max torque: 310 Nm constant from 400 to 6750 rpm
•Transmission: 5-speed sequential
•Chassis: FIA-homologated carbon fiber monococque
•Front wheels: 15" diameter, 4" wide
•Rear wheels: 15" diameter, 12.5" wide
•Front tires: 10/31/15 Michelin
•Rear tires: 310/620/15 Michelin
•Weight: 475kg without fuel or driver, 575kg with fuel and driver
•Distribution: 28% front, 72% rear
•Front width: 0.76m
•Rear width: 2.08m
•Fuel capacity: 40 liters
•Bodywork: Carbon composite
•Aerodynamics: Twin cortex underbody downforce system - BLAT (Boundary Layer Adhesion Technology)
•Top speed: 315kph
•0-100 kph: 3.3 seconds
•Fuel consumption: Estimated 230-250gm/kwh
Nissan DeltaWing Drivers
Marino Franchitti has had a long and successful career in sportscars. His experience and his history with Highcroft Racing made him the ideal man to drive Nissan DeltaWing
Michael's career has taken him all over the world but the focus of his racing has been in Japan where he is a NISMO contracted driver. Michael is married to professional tennis player, Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Satoshi's career has been predominately based in his native country, Japan, where he has been multiple champion of Formula Nippon and Super GT. He has also raced for Nissan at Le Mans.
THE NISSAN VK45DE V8 LMP2 ENGINE
The Nismo-tuned Nissan VK45DE 4.5L naturally-aspirated V8 engine has been supplied to 10 teams for Le Mans, for 13 LMP2 cars.
The engine is an evolution of the VK45DE, which was originally developed for GT500 cars in the Japanese Super GT series and its performance, durability, and reliability are race proven.
In 2011 a Nissan-powered car won every round of the Le Mans Series, along with the Le Mans Series title, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title and first and second place in the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
To offer the VK45DE LMP2 engines to privateer teams in Europe and to efficiently provide swift customer support, Nissan has entered into a partnership with Zytek Motorsport Limited and Oreca Magny Cours SAS who assemble the engines precisely to Nissan's specifications.
•Engine Type: NISSAN VK45DE Aluminium block, 90 degree V8, naturally aspirated
•Bore x Stroke: 93mm x 82.7mm
•Horsepower: 450+HP / 331kW (DIN) with 40.0mm air restrictor
•Torque: 58kgf-m / 570N-m (DIN)
•Weight: Approximately 145kg
•Greaves Motorsport - Zytek Z11SN Nissan
Alex Brundle has competed in both single-seaters and sportscars in recent years. In 2012 he teams up with his father, Martin, to take on the Le Mans 24 Hours. He will also compete in the full European Le Mans Series with Greaves Motorsport.
Martin Brundle brings vast experience to the Greaves Motorsport team. He spent a total of nine years in Formula One and has also set pole position at and won the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Lucas was studying for an MBA when he saw an advertisement for the GT Academy. He entered and won the inaugural competition in 2008 and since then has worked his way up Nissan's sportscar racing ladder, through FIA GT4 and ILMC before making his Le Mans debut last year, finishing second in LMP2.
Signatech Nissan - Oreca 03 Nissan
Franck actually started his career on two wheels, winning major BMX and mountain-biking championships. Success followed in single-seaters before his switch to sportscar racing in 2009.
Frenchman Jordan won the second GT Academy in 2010 and has followed Ordonez through the ranks of Nissan's sportscar racing program, winning the GT4 class in last year's Blancpain Endurance Series.
Olivier Lombard burst into the limelight in 2011 when he joined the Greaves Motorsport team and promptly won Le Mans!
About Nissan in Europe
Nissan has one of the most comprehensive European presences of any overseas manufacturer, employing more than 14,500 staff across locally-based design, research & development, manufacturing, logistics and sales & marketing operations. Last year Nissan plants in the UK, Spain and Russia produced 677,000 vehicles including mini-MPVs, award-winning crossovers, SUVs and commercial vehicles. Nissan now offers 24 diverse and innovative products for sale in Europe today, and is positioned to become the number one Asian brand in Europe.
VIDEO Nissan Power for a Quarter of Le Mans 24 Hours Field